Prohibition: The Ignoble Experiment


The 18th Amendment , considered to be one of the biggest follies of the
nation, was brought about with the intent to sincerely help the U.S., but more
harm came from it than good. Prohibition, also known as the 18th Amendment ,
was ratified on January 29th, 1920 and was repealed on December 5th, 1933 with
the ratification of the 21st Amendment which nullified prohibition.
The 18th Amendment stated that it was illegal to manufacture, transport,
and sell alcoholic beverages in the United States. "The national prohibition of
alcohol was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems,
reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and
hygiene in America" (Thornton 70). This was a very good idea, but America went
about it the wrong way. We, instead, created even more problems such as
organized crime, increased alcohol consumption, over crowded prison systems, and
the uprise of the Mafia. Not only was this a step in the wrong direction, it
was an action that increased the problems that America was already facing.
People believed that prohibition would fail and that it was a violation
of a person\'s privacy while other people thought that prohibition would do
nothing but improve America. People who were against prohibition were called
wets and people for it were called drys. Wets mainly consisted of democrats who
refused to stop drinking and who were usually older men or immigrants who drank
all their life. The drys were usually republican Protestants who believed
alcohol was evil and that prohibition was the answer to societies problems.
Well, the drys were wrong because many problems surfaced as a result of
prohibition.
One problem was the increase of alcohol consumption. Alcohol
consumption did go down at the beginning of prohibition, but subsequently went
back up. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume and crime burgeoned and
became ³organized". The courts and prison systems became over crowded resulting
in a full blown war on alcohol which costed the government millions of dollars.
Political officials began to want a piece of the action and became corrupt.
The prohibition of alcohol also resulted in the removal of significant
tax revenues and the increase of government spending. It also led many drinkers
to switch to other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opium, patent medicines,
and other dangerous substances they would have been unlikely to use otherwise. ³
Speakeasies" or illegal saloons, and ³bootleggers" (dealers of alcohol) surfaced
all over the U.S. This created crime and corruption everywhere. This darkside
of alcohol gave it a glamourous and forbidden feel to it which tempted non-
drinkers to drink so they could ³experience the forbiddance of alcohol". This
drastically increased the alcohol consumption rate higher than it was before
prohibition was ratified.
"Prohibition did not achieve its goals. Instead, it added to the
problems it was intended to solve and supplanted other ways of addressing them"
(Thornton 73). The only beneficiaries of prohibition were bootleggers,
crimebosses, and the forces of the big government. When prohibition was
nullified in 1933, crime dramatically went down, including organized crime, and
corruption. Jobs were created, and new voluntary efforts, such as alcoholics
anonymous, which was created in 1934, succeeded in helping alcoholics.
Prohibition was also used in several other countries such as Finland in 1919
with minimal results. Society needs to open their eyes and not let history
repeat itself. Prohibition is obviously not the way.

Category: Social Issues